“A BIRTH LIKE NO OTHER” Luke 2:1-7
INTRO – How do you tell this story again? How do we keep from allowing it to become “old hat” to us? How do we fight the familiarity factor?
Answer: We let the Word of God speak for itself. We let the Holy Spirit speak & teach us the truth. We simply rest in the beauty of this story that we know so well & love so much. What we DON’T do is try to manufacture a manmade experience, or fabricate some emotional response. We simply come to this historical, monumental event & stand in quiet awe & amazement. God. Has. Come. To. Us………wow. It really happened. And it really happened the way Luke said it happened. He was a physician & gave us the most details of the birth of Jesus of all the Gospel writers – “a very punctilious historian” (Alistair Begg). As we’ve seen in the first chapters of this Gospel, Luke gave us information about Jesus’ ancestry, the actual circumstances of His birth, & the miracles that surrounded it.
- Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience who needed to know that Jesus was truly the Messiah, gave an extensive genealogy about Jesus’ family line, to confirm that Jesus descended from the lineage of David, & fulfilled the OT prophecies concerning the Messiah.
- John showed Jesus as the preexistent Logos, the Word of God, who was present at creation & who now came to earth in human form. John 1:14 – “…the Word became human & made His home among us” (NLT).
But, Luke’s account, famously quoted in part by Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” gives us the details of the birth of Jesus that we all know so well, & from which, we get the majority of our Christmas carols:
- Gabriel coming to Elizabeth & then to Mary
- Mary & Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem
- No room in the inn
- The stable, the manger, the swaddling clothes
- The shepherds “keeping watch o’er their flocks by night,” the angels
- “Glory to God in the highest, & on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.”
Of all the ways that Jesus could have come into our world, this had to be the most unbelievable, unassuming, unimpressive way possible. Alistair Begg called it “the most significant event in all of human history…” But one of the things that sticks out the most about Jesus’ birth is the absolutely humility of the circumstances of the actual event.
- No grand palace for the birth of the King of kings
- No beautiful, impressive mansion for the birth of the King of kings
- No spotless, sanitary delivery room in a hospital for the birth of the King of kings
No, this birth – a birth like no other – took place in a way & in a place that no woman in this room would ever consider. As Ray Pritchard said: “…now more than ever we need to reaffirm our basic faith that it really happened:
- There really was a Caesar Augustus who issued a call for a census.
- The journey from Nazareth was indeed long and difficult and dangerous.
- Mary truly was pregnant.
- Joseph really was going home for Christmas.
- Bethlehem was in fact a small village.
- The inn really was full.
- Jesus was born in a stable and took his first nap in a feeding-trough.
These things are not legends or myths or holiday fairy tales. This is how it really happened. When God decided to enter our world, he took a most unusual route. Born in poverty, to Jewish parents, in a forgotten village, in a stable. Unexpected and mostly unnoticed, the Son of God came from heaven.” (http://keepbelieving.com/sermon/1992-12-20-Ill-Be-Home-For-Christmas/)
The time came: “Why did Jesus come to earth?” Question has been asked for centuries, & we, as Christ-followers, need to be able to answer that question. Do we truly understand its significance & magnitude in history? In our day, it’s not enough for us to just have a surface knowledge of Jesus & a shallow faith in Jesus. We need to dig deeper, grow stronger, & stand taller in our faith when the skeptics & mockers begin their attacks. They can put up all the billboards they want to put up; they can take out all the ads they want to take out; they can file all the lawsuits they want to file; but, we will boldly, consistently, faithfully, & lovingly proclaim that Jesus Christ came into the world as the One & Only Messiah & Savior of the world!
After all the events in ch. 1 that announced His conception & upcoming birth, the time came:
- First, the time came for the census – One of the main reasons that Jesus came was to do the will of the Father. It’s almost funny, & most definitely a God-thing that God would use a pagan emperor to accomplish His will. Caesar Augustus just THOUGHT he was issuing his decree so he could increase the tax base for Rome. And yet it was his very decree that caused Joseph to take Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, fulfilling the prophecy in Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” J. Vernon McGee – “Caesar Augustus attempted to make himself a god. He wanted to be worshiped. He signed a tax bill, which caused a woman and man, peasants, living in Nazareth, to journey to Bethlehem to enroll. That woman was carrying in her womb the Son of God! This is tremendous! This Caesar Augustus tried to make himself God, but nobody today reverences him or pays taxes to him. But that little baby in Mary’s womb—many of us worship Him today and call Him our Savior.” (http://www.jesus.org/birth-of-jesus/roman-world/the-census-gods-plan.html)
- The time came for the journey – v. 4a – About 70 mile trip (Byram to McComb), going “up.” Bethlehem’s elevation was 2,564 ft. above sea level. Nazareth’s elevation – 1,830 ft. above sea level. So all travellers would have to go up to Bethlehem. Probably took about a week to make the trip.
- The time came for the birth – Gk word for “time” – hemera – “day, 24-hour period” – So the day came – the hemera – the day of His actual birthday came.
The time has come – Time to decide: Now the time has come to decide. We can’t remain neutral. We can’t straddle the fence. We can’t just give Jesus lip service. He had something to say about that when he said about the Pharisees: “These people honor me w/ their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matt. 15:8). How tragic if that’s true of you & me! That’s why the time has come to decide. 3 questions:
- The time has come to decide: Will I believe? – The word “believe” is associated w/ Christmas a lot. I’ve seen ladies wearing t-shirts & sweatshirts w/ that one word on them. “Believe in Santa Claus.” “…in the magic of Christmas.” Polar Express – last lines in book: “At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” But the word “believe” has so much more importance than just a childhood story at Christmastime. It’s an absolutely important, absolutely essential, absolutely biblical term that is so much more than just intellectual assent to facts. It is the conviction that leads us to totally & completely entrust our entire lives into His hands.
- It’s the conviction that He ALONE is the Savior of the world.
- It’s the conviction that His blood ALONE can cleanse us of all of our sins.
- It’s the conviction that He ALONE can rescue us from the eternal fires of hell.
- “In Christ’s first coming, He implemented a rescue plan conceived in the mind of God before the foundation of the world. He did not come to promote holiday cheer, boost end-of-year sales, or serve as the central figure in a nativity scene. He came to save sinners.” (Joel E. Beeke & William Boekestein)
- The time has come to decide: Will I follow? Based on my belief – my convictional knowing of Christ – will I follow Him? No strings attached…no turning back…no stopping short of the finish line… Friends, when you confessed Jesus as Lord of your life, you were making this very commitment – that you would faithfully & obediently follow Him for the rest of your life. How are you doing in living that out in your life right now?
- The time has come to decide: Will I share? We must NEVER stop sharing & spreading the Gospel with a lost & dying world! Jesus came into the world to save sinners, to bring the dead to life, to seek & save those who are lost. Question: Will YOU share that message?
The time will come – When there will be no more time:
- Where will you spend eternity? Church sign messages can be pretty funny sometimes:
- “Whoever stole our A/C units, keep one. It’s hot where you’re going.”
- “Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
- “Come hear our pastor. He’s not very good, but he’s short.”
- “Don’t let your worries kill you. Let the church help.”
- But here’s one that I thought about as I got to this point: “Where will you be sitting in eternity? Smoking or Non-Smoking?” Kind of cliché-ish, but makes a point! There will come a time when there will be no more time to make the decision to follow Christ & spend eternity in heaven.
- How are you living for Jesus right now?
- What needs to change in your life today?